School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 8

Reading/ELA | Informational | Literary | Writing | Language | Listening | Speaking

Clarifications: Each clarification provides an explanation of an indicator/objective to help teachers better understand the skills and/or concepts.

Standard 3.0 Comprehension of Literary Text

Indicator 7. Analyze and evaluate the author's purposeful use of language


To show proficiency of the skills stated in this indicator, a reader will be able to identify, describe, analyze, and evaluate an author's use of language, specific words or phrases that contribute to the meaning of a text, or to the creation of an author's style. Author's style is the way an author uses language to express his/her thoughts. This may include word choice, figurative language, and literary devices. These words and phrases are purposeful and appeal to the emotions, the intellect, and the senses. When used with other text elements, they assist readers in constructing meaning of an entire text.

To identify and explain how dialogue contributes to a narrative, a reader should know that one way character is revealed is by what a character says and what other characters say about him/her. Those words an author selects for a character to say or have said about him/her are part of the development of that character. Since characters move the plot of a narrative or are moved by the plot, the growth of that character through dialogue also directly affects the movement of the plot.

To identify, explain, and analyze the role of specific words and phrases that contribute to meaning and create style in a literary text, a reader should be aware of the different types of specific words and word groupings in texts or portions of texts that establish tone, develop character, and create style. A reader can use these specific words and phrases to construct meaning from a text by clarifying their purpose and examining their implications.

Significant Words
words that are necessary to a reader's understanding of a text
literal, dictionary meaning of a word
idea or feeling associated with a word in addition to its literal meaning
Multiple Meanings
words that have acquired additional meanings over a period of time
phrase whose meaning cannot be understood from the literal meaning of the words in it Hold your tongue is an English idiom meaning keep quiet.
familiar, informal everyday talk Movies is an informal term for the more formal term cinema.
a form of language spoken in a particular place by a particular group of people
Word/Phrase Patterns
patterns of words and phrases involving how something is said that supersedes what is said. These word patterns or phrases joined with word choice create style such as humorous, serious, mysterious etc…

To identify, explain, analyze, and evaluate words and phrases that create tone in a literary text, a reader must first know that tone expresses an author's attitude toward his or her subject.

"Listen to me!" yelled Cory. "I thought of something, but I need your help." Elisa wiped the tears from her face. "I'm going to lie down on the ice and try to crawl to Minnie. You lie down behind me and hold my ankles. Don't let go, no matter what, and don't stand up. Understand?" Elisa nodded sniffling.

from "The River" by Yetti Frenkel

The underlined words help a reader determine the urgent tone of this text.

Many readers use the words tone and mood interchangeably. However, mood refers to the atmosphere of a text.

Outside Eric's bedroom window the January blizzard raged. Treetops swayed dangerously as gusting winds sculpted snow into huge drifts.

from "Sierra Oscar Sierra" by Lynn Murray

The underlined words help a reader determine the perilous mood of this text.

The language, punctuation, and details a writer chooses help create the tone which could be serious, playful, angry, sad, etc…In addition to specific word choices the inclusion of specific punctuation helps relay an author's attitude. A reader identifies words or phrases in a text that, in conjunction with the content of the text, signal the author's attitude. For example, in a comic text about a mistaken identity, an author may point out a ludicrous appearance or behaviors of a character to create a light-hearted tone. Once those words have been identified, a reader can tell why those words create a specific tone. Ultimately a reader can examine how an author chooses specific words to create a specific tone. A critical reader evaluates the language choices, the intent of the author, and the purpose of the text to determine the quality of tone.

To identify, explain, analyze, and evaluate figurative language in a literary text, a reader must first know different types of figurative language in texts or portions of texts. In simpler texts figurative language can clarify or intensify descriptions. In more complex texts figurative language can create style, establish symbolism, and allow critical readers to view people, settings, and ideas in new ways. A close reading of a complex text involving attention to figurative language and its effect on meaning helps a reader to understand a text from the literal to the critical.

stated comparison of two things that have some quality in common using the words like or as
stated comparison of two things that have some quality in common not using the words like or as
stating that an inanimate object has lifelike characteristics
words whose sound suggest their meaning

To identify, explain, and analyze sensory language that contributes to meaning in a literary text, readers must identify those words and phrases in a text that appeal to the senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. Next, readers must explain how sensory language evokes those particular senses and makes a story or description become real. From this a critical reader can discern how sensory language assists a reader in having a clear picture of characters and settings which, in turn, allows a reader to understand a text fully. In more complex texts sensory language is a component of style. For example, language that evokes the senses could be how an author relays his/her story or theme. The use of symbolism, irony, and allusion in a literary text adds layers of meaning to a text.

using a person, place, object, or action that stands for something other than itself
the contrast between what is expected will be said or done and what actually is said or done
a reference to a famous person, place, event, or work of literature

Symbolism, verbal and situational irony, and literary allusion can be composed with sensory language. An author's choice of language creates tone, and those language choices could include symbolism, irony, and allusion. A critical reader notes the use of sensory language, determines its use in a narrative, and is able to judge its effect on the meaning of a literary text.

To identify, explain, and analyze elements of style and their contribution to the meaning of a literary text, a reader must understand the elements that create style. Since style is the way an author expresses him/herself, use of these elements creates a unique means of expression.

technique where a sound, word, or phrase is repeated for effect
statement where truth is exaggerated for effect
repetition of consonant sound at the beginning of a word
technique where what is said is intentionally less than what is complete or true
Rhetorical Question
question asked for effect where no answer is expected

A critical reader notes the types of stylistic elements an author employs and determines a purpose for their use. Through stylistic elements, a reader's attention is drawn to certain statements or ideas which assist in constructing meaning of a literary text.